IGFA Participates in the 2nd Regional Workshop on Billfish Management and Conservation

Billfish species (blue and white marlin, sailfish, and spearfish) make significant contributions to Caribbean economies through commercial and recreational fisheries, and are also incidental by-catch species from large scale tuna long-line fisheries operating both within and beyond national jurisdictions. Because collective action by Caribbean nations is required to improve billfish management and conservation, 50 experts from over 20 countries from the Caribbean region and the USA met on November 9, 2015 in Panama City, Panama for the 2nd Regional Workshop on Billfish Management and Conservation. The three day workshop was cosponsored by the World Bank Ocean Partnership, Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) during the 68th Conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI).

The primary objective of the workshop was to discuss The Caribbean Billfish Project:  a 1.95 million USD project to develop business plans for two pilot trials to create sustainable management and conservation of billfish within the Western Central Atlantic Ocean. The IGFA is playing a significant role in this project by working with consultants to develop billfish economic and assessment methodologies and by serving as Secretariat for the Consortium on Billfish Management and Conservation (CBMC).

 During the workshop, attendees:

• Selected two countries for the pilot trials (Grenada and Dominican Republic) to test and validate innovative rights based management arrangements.

• Presented and reviewed preliminary results of current research on the status of billfish resources in the Western Central Atlantic; the value of billfish resources to both commercial and recreational fisheries; the application of the Manual on Economic Impact Assessment on recreational fisheries in Martinique and Bahamas; the use of rights based management in transboundary and highly migratory fisheries; the assessment of national fisheries legislative frameworks in the Caribbean region.

• Presented and discussed the outline of a Regional Billfish Fisheries Management and Conservation Plan, and discussed the potential for coordination of management measures.

Immediately following the conclusion of the workshop, the Steering Committee reviewed the progress The Caribbean Billfish Project, and adopted the budget and the 2016 work plan. The Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from The World Bank, FAO, The International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Conservation International (CI), and Grenada and Dominican Republic delegates. Concurrently, members of the Consortium of Billfish Management and Conservation (CBMC) met to discuss the CBMC 2016 work plan. The CBMC serves as the advisory body to the Caribbean Billfish Project and promotes stakeholders’ participation to improve fisheries management. The CBMC is comprised of representatives from IGFA, FAO, World Bank, CI, The Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC), The Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO), The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), and The Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (OSPESCA).